(Originally posted July 9, 2010)
Required reading for any journalist: Rethinking the Role of the Journalist in the Participatory Age on PBS’s Mediashift blog. The premise essentially is that the gatekeeping role that news organizations traditionally have held — we report the news, we decide what’s important and how it’s played — can’t exist on the Web, where we can still report the news but have almost no control over anything else:
“New media technologies do not just offer journalists new ways of doing their old job. A newspaper online is not the same as a newspaper in print. On paper, the newspaper delivers a bundle of stories, ads and amusements, such as the crossword puzzle. On the web, the newspaper package is unbundled into individual fragments.”
And that much is true. Ask someone who keeps track of your site’s traffic how many people come to any story from the front page compared to the story’s overall traffic. Through social networks and search, people are doing their own gatekeeping.
But online media brings new roles for us:
“(D)igital media is more participatory, collaborative and distributed, and less finalized, individualized and author-centric than previous forms of media. The journalist still matters. But as Tom Rosenstiel has suggested, they shift from being the gatekeeper to being an authenticator of information, a sense-maker to derive meaning, a navigator to help orient audiences and a community leader to engage audiences.”